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Meet the data geek who builds robust sales models for small shopkeepers

Harsh Shah, Co-founder, Fynd
Data is akin to oxygen for any modern day commerce, whether online or even offline. But it also depends on how one churns it and comes out with actionable insights.

No wonder Harsh Shah, a co-founder of retail tech startup Fynd, expects all of the firm’s employees to know the basics of data modelling. “That is the core of the business. Irrespective of their roles, they will be taught to understand how the solution works. Can’t escape that,” chuckles Shah.

Fynd provides technology platforms and solutions to merchants to manage their inventory and sales across multiple-demand channels for consumers, including e-commerce platforms. All the anonymised data from thousands of partner brands helps the company build more robust sales models.

And how does data and the focus on data modelling enable this business? “There is a need to use tech as a solution and not as a tool to replace existing models of business. That is exactly what Fynd has been enabling,” said Shah.

All of Fynd’s micro-markets across the country have customised solutions based on past retailer preference. This allows the buyers and retailers to make the optimum choices.

What makes Fynd stand out is that within seven years of operations, the company has not only managed to attract investors like Google, but this August it also got Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd to acquire a majority stake in the company for Rs 295.25 crore (around $41.9 million).

Fynd was founded by Farooq Adam, Harsh Shah, and Sreeraman M G in 2012. The company has recently launched Uniket, a direct-to-retail solution, which will help shopkeepers in tier-II and III cities go online and expand their business. With Uniket, Fynd looks at assisting shopkeepers launch their own e-commerce websites and apps with a selling capacity of over 50,000 styles and 50 brands. The product is already being used by 6,500 stores across 350 cities. In another six to nine months, the company aims to expand the product to 60,000 stores across 800 cities.

A graduate in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT-Bombay, Shah always knew that entrepreneurship is the way forward from him. He was quite active with the entrepreneurial cell of the institute. But before making a big plunge, he worked with a consultancy firm for a few years handling the financial services and retail arms. “That is when I saw the immense potential this (retail) space had,” said Shah.

He was torn between a healthcare solution and the retail platform for some time until the retail solution was finalised for the faster go-to market time it promised. As a company, Fynd was always trying to bridge the online-offline divide in the retail sector with a strong focus on enabling offline stores to leverage the power of online. Shah doesn’t see himself walking away from the retail technology space anytime soon as the amount of scope and challenge in the business is enough to keep him occupied for the long term.

But is it difficult to manage the hectic schedule and requirements of running a tech company while addressing retail issues?

Shah usually walks into office a couple of hours ahead of the rest of the team just so that he can work on solutions on his own and figure out future strategies for the platform as well as the business. Evidently, he never stops thinking about how to use data better and faster and makes sure to spend time with colleagues to help them fine tune their data models as well.


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